President Trump announced Friday that Representative John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) is withdrawing from contention to be his next director of national intelligence to escape the media scrutiny surrounding the already-contentious confirmation process.
….John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2019
Prior to the abrupt announcement, Trump had chosen Ratcliffe to succeed outgoing DNI Dan Coats, who will resign on August 15. The withdrawal comes just days after the New York Times reported that Ratcliffe had exaggerated aspects of his resume.
In campaign materials and on his congressional website, Ratcliffe touted his experience prosecuting a suspect accused of funneling money to Hamas, but White House aides determined during the confirmation process that Ratcliffe was only involved in a tangential matter related to an initial mistrial, not the subsequent trials that resulted in the suspect’s conviction.
Ratcliffe also falsely claimed that he “arrested” over 300 illegal immigrants in a single day while serving as a U.S. attorney. As the New York Times reported, Ratcliffe was involved in the relevant case but the arrests were carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In addition to the inconsistencies on his resume, Ratcliffe met resistance from Senate Democrats, and some Republicans, concerned about his lack of intelligence experience and his past criticisms of the agencies he would be tasked with overseeing.
“By law, this position requires ‘extensive national security expertise.’ Congressman Ratcliffe appears to lack the experience needed for the job,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said in a statement. “This isn’t a learn-as-you-go position and shouldn’t be given out to political supporters.”
The president has thus far resisted Senate Republicans’ suggestion that he nominate Sue Gordon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, according to NBC News. Trump instead plans to put forward his own nominee in the coming days.